American Football Database
American Football Database
For the American football coach, see Jerry Smith (coach).
Jerry Smith
No. 87     
Tight end
Personal information
Date of birth: (1943-07-19)July 19, 1943
Place of birth: Eugene, Oregon
Date of death: October 15, 1986(1986-10-15) (aged 43)
Place of death: Silver Spring, Maryland
High School: San Lorenzo (CA)
Career information
College: Arizona State
NFL Draft: 1965 / Round: 9 / Pick: 118
AFL Draft: 1965 / Round: 18 / Pick: 141
Debuted in 1965 for the [[{{{debutteam}}}]]
Last played in 1977 for the [[{{{finalteam}}}]]
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Receiving yards     5,496
Average     13.1
Touchdowns     60
Stats at

Gerald "Jerry" Sanford Smith (July 19, 1943 – October 15, 1986) was a professional American football tight end for the National Football League's Washington Redskins from 1965–1977.

Professional career

Playing for Otto Graham's, Vince Lombardi's and George Allen's Redskins, Smith had a stellar career. He played in the 1973 Super Bowl VII, and Sports Illustrated called him "an outstanding receiver among tight ends, with the ability to break open for a long gain." In his career Smith caught 421 passes, including 60 touchdowns, a record for tight ends at the time. He was named All-Pro twice and held several NFL records that stood for years.


Smith died of AIDS on October 15, 1986. He was the first former professional athlete to die of the disease. Although he acknowledged that he had AIDS, he never publicly acknowledged his homosexuality. Smith's sexuality was confirmed after his death by a former teammate, pro NFL football player David Kopay, who had come out of the closet years earlier. The Redskins logo, along with Jerry Smith's uniform number 87, was part of the AIDS quilt.

See also

  • Homosexuality in American football